Most beautifully designed living rooms have one element in common: curated artwork is displayed throughout the space in a thoughtful, seamless manner. Whether you’re designing artwork above your sofa or around your TV in a gallery-like style, there are certain rules when it comes to choosing the right size artwork that will make your room look balanced and collected while highlighting certain features of the space.
Of all the areas of your home, the living room is the space that has the most room to make an impression and showcase the homeowner’s personality. It is the place where you welcome your guests, the place where you might have fun, and the place where you spend time with family. Beautifully curated art is a conversation starter and adds an extra element of personality that makes a room feel lived in, so getting it right is key.
Here’s the thing – the wrong size artwork in your living room is a common design mistake, and results in an underwhelming visual perception of a room that looks unbalanced and out of proportion. Fortunately, though, there are some tried-and-tested techniques approved by expert designers and art experts that, if followed, will improve your artwork and benefit your entire living space. Here are four tips to keep in mind.
1. Notice the geometry of the room
First, when choosing the right size of artwork for your space, take note of the geometry of your room. How high are your ceilings? Are there any narrow walls? Are there any features you want to hide? “When it comes to the size of artwork for a living room, there are some standards that we start with and then carefully break down,” explains interior designer Keli Hogsett, founder of CoCollect. “First, you have to decide which direction to push the room.”
“Is the ceiling so tall that the artwork needs lower horizontal work or a collection of smaller artwork to make the space cozier?” Or does it need a big, bold piece to liven things up? “Decide the direction you want to take the room, then set your size parameters.” This includes various spatial elements, furniture size and placement, lighting, ceiling and window height, and even door height. If your home has a low ceiling, for example, consider adding art pieces on the narrow vertical axis to create a visual effect of height.
2. Take into account available wall space
Once you have created the room design, think about the specific wall you would like to hang your artwork on. “Choosing the right size of artwork for your living room is critical to the overall design aesthetic,” Lee Scott Richler, founder of Gabriel Scott, tells me. “First, evaluate the space and size of the space where the art piece will be hung.”
When it comes to living room wall art ideas, you don’t want to have too much artwork on the wall, so, when choosing a piece size, Richler advises that the artwork or collection of works should fill 60-75% of the wall space. “Whether it’s a single piece or a group, make sure it fits the overall size of the space you have to work with,” he adds.
Interior designer Bethany Adams agrees that wall size is key when choosing your artwork. “Art should be in direct proportion to it,” she says. “A large blank wall can take a large-scale painting, while a long hallway with a low ceiling is better suited to a series of smaller pieces always hung at eye level.”
Don’t be shy when it comes to size either. “Larger works of art (when they fit into your space) can make a big impact and bring that life you didn’t realize you needed,” adds multidisciplinary creative and interior designer David Samuel Coe. Go bigger than you think, advises Liz Buttarazzo, CEO and lead designer of LP + Co. “For large, empty walls with furniture, consider grouping similar pieces paired with art lamps to fill a larger space,” she says. “If you have a long wall with no furniture, consider a triptych that gives the illusion of continuity or movement along the wall.”
3. Consider furniture and TV placement
When choosing the size of your artwork, taking into consideration the size and placement of the furniture surrounding it is also vital. “It’s important to determine exactly where the piece is going and how it relates to its surrounding environment,” Kelly says.
“If it’s near or above your living room sofa, it’ll probably be one-half to two-thirds the size of your sofa,” David adds. “When choosing a scale for an artwork in this location, just make sure it won’t interfere with people’s heads when they’re sitting on the sofa, especially if it’s 3D.”
Before making any permanent decisions, you can also imitate the feel of the artwork before it is delivered. “If you’re not sure what size might work for you, a helpful hint is to tape off the size you’re considering with blue painter’s tape, let it live in your space for a few days, and see how it feels.” Online Art Gallery Owner Lisa Pruitt advises.
A similar rule applies to other pieces of furniture, such as console tables for example. “Ideally, the artwork should be three-quarters of the width of your seating area or the back of your sofa,” Kelly notes. ‘Leave enough white space on either side of the artwork so it doesn’t feel too crowded. Typically, half the width of the space on either side of the artwork will do the trick.’
When it comes to the shape and size of your artwork in relation to the TV, if they’re on the same wall, Kelly urges us to avoid placing square, similarly sized artwork next to the TV so that the shapes compete. “Instead, try the wall behind the TV or another adjacent wall,” she says.
4. Know the rules to break the rules
While rules and guidelines are helpful as a first step, once you get familiar with them and develop a sense of what works for you and what doesn’t, trust your intuition and play around with the size of your artwork. For example, if you’re feeling bold, throw caution to the wind and go all-in through the gallery wall.
“Starting with these rules often helps us figure out a better way to break them,” Kelly says. “Bringing in large-scale artwork, or using 3D, non-orthogonal artwork is always a fun way to throw the rules out the window and go with your intuition.”
“Artworks in the living room are an area I consider very important when it comes to making an impact,” David adds. “This is a key space in your home, so the artwork here should be special in some way. Art should always be something that feels like an extension of your personality or your family’s personality or something you’re drawn to in a deeper way.”
He points out that, regardless of the rules, the most important factor is to make thoughtful choices that mean something to you, and you’ll already be on the right track to creating a space you’ll love.
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